Video games, for the most part, are not required to be accessible under the law. The only law that really applies to video games is the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA); however, the video game industry has been granted a waiver until December 31, 2017, meaning that they do not have to comply with the CVAA just yet.
The CVAA focuses on ensuring that communications and media services, content, equipment, emerging technologies, and new modes of transmission are accessible to users with disabilities. The bill is primarily targeted at communications software and equipment manufacturers, video service providers, and producers of video content.
At first blush, the CVAA doesn’t seem like it would apply to video games, but the CVAA applies to all Advanced Communication Services (ACS). Today, many video game consoles and software have communication features, such as being able to chat with friends or teammates via voice or text and providing feedback like bug reports to the manufacturer.
The waiver has been extended several times, and the waiver’s latest iteration is due to expire on December 31, 2017. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) had to provide a progress report to the FCC by June 30, 2017, specifically detailing the challenges faced by the video game industry in making their games accessible.
ESA’s June 30 progress report emphasizes that the primary purpose of video games is gameplay and not ACS features. Even if a game features voice chat or other ACS, these are often not mentioned in the marketing materials. They also note that strides have been made in accessibility features, including increased support for text-to-speech on Microsoft’s Xbox One.
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